Here's why I will take the State with all its faults and not the Maoists

Maoists can make an exhibition of the murder of an innocent, the State cannot

bvrao

BV Rao | September 3, 2010


 The grieving family members of one of the kidnapped Bihar cops
The grieving family members of one of the kidnapped Bihar cops

The argument for the existence of Maoist extremism is very convincing. You cannot argue with the fact that the Indian State has, in the last 60 plus years, delivered a very deficient, delinquent and defective democracy.

India’s contribution to the Forbes list of billionaires is growing. Also growing is the poverty of the poor who find everything going out of their reach because, to paraphrase finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, in the quest for never-before-growth you first run into never-before-inflation.

Thus it is that more than one third of the country is impoverished and nearly half of its children below five years are nothing but a mass of skin and bones, being severely malnourished. The State is uncaring, unconcerned, unresponsive, distant and oppressive. The only way to make sure the poor are heard is to make a lot of noise, such as what the Maoists are raking up these days.

So, the Maoists definitely have a strong argument against the State.

But on occasions such as the crisis that has now gripped the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar, I am relieved that it is this State with all its faults that is running my life and not the Maoists.

The Maoists have just killed a sub-inspector, in spite of heart-rending appeals by his wife and children, to demonstrate to the State that they mean business. In a war as messy as the one between the State and the Maoists, retaliation is fair game. The State has in its custody eight Maoists but bumping off one of them to show it too means business is just not an option before it. Public opinion, or the power of the people who elected it, does not allow it. In fact, it is my guess that soon after discovering sub-inspector Lucas Tete’s body, the police must have enhanced the security cover around the eight Maoists in their custody to protect them from the wrath of their own colleagues.

We know the State only too well to believe that it does not operate on the dark side of the law. It does, all too frequently these past years and most recently in the "encounter" death of Maoist Azad. But while the Maoists can make an exhibition of the murder of an innocent, the State cannot. For every life taken, including that of an adversary like Azad, it has to explain itself (even if it is the most incredulous explanation). Between an entity that violates the laws of humanity out of the gaze of public opinion and an entity that seems not to submit itself to any laws at all and exhibits its power through brual public killings, I suppose I will settle for the former.

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